North America's oldest beluga whale dies at Vancouver Aquarium

Yesterday, Kavna, the oldest beluga whale at the Vancouver Aquarium and in North America passed away at approximately 3pm. Kavna was 46. According to aquarium staff the writing was on the wall as  she had been behaving differently the past few days.

The Vancouver aquarium issued this statement to the CBC:

“At approximately 46 years old, Kavna was considered to be at the end of her life and had lived a long and healthy life in the care of the aquarium’s marine mammal care team.”

Kavna was the inspiration for the classic children’s song “Baby Beluga” by Raffi. He tweeted about it yesterday.

Here is the official statement we just received from the Vancouver Aquarium:

Dear Vancouver Aquarium Members,

We are very sad to share the loss of Kavna, our oldest beluga whale yesterday. Kavna was the oldest beluga whale at any accredited aquarium in North America. While our staff and volunteers are saddened at this loss , we’re left with very warm memories of her at the Vancouver Aquarium. At about 46 years of age, she was at the end of her natural life and will be greatly missed by all, including the millions of members and visitors who have connected to our natural world through visits with her over the past 37 years.

Over the past few weeks, Kavna had been displaying inconsistent behaviour. Dr. Martin Haulena, our veterinarian, and members of our marine mammal team, had been closely monitoring her and conducting tests to determine the causes of these changes in behaviour. Last week, specialists were brought in to provide additional consultation.

Beluga whales in the wild are believed to live to about 25 to 30 years old. At approximately 46 years old, Kavna had lived a long and healthy life in the care of the Aquarium’s marine mammal team. She was a wonderful beluga and, to the millions of visitors and Aquarium members, helped spark an interest in and a better understanding of what is happening in our natural world. We are all fortunate to have spent time working with her and will have many fond memories. Everyone is going to miss her.

With thanks,

Dr. John Nightingale, Ph.D
President, Vancouver Aquarium


Image via 24 Hours